We love our little cups of dark, richly roasted coffee beans with foamy crema that light up our days and bring the oomph back to your system, especially during those long moments of the day. A tiny cup of espresso, when taken immediately after brewing, warms up your insides and jolts your brain cells, giving you a burst of well needed energy and positive vibes.
So, what exactly is in this mysterious cup of joy?
There are many misconceptions that espresso is a roast level, coffee bean or bean blend. This is not true. Espresso is a beverage made from ground coffee beans and it is also a method of brewing coffee.
Espresso coffee uses the same beans for Drip or French Press coffee, but most roasters have a different process for roasting beans destined to become espresso. It can contain a blend of different beans and most producers choose to add Robusta coffee beans because it produces a better crema and adds that extra caffeine hit.
In 1884, a man named Angelo Moriondo, from the northern Italian city of Turin, invented a contraption that is believed to be the first espresso machine. He patented it as the “New steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage, method ‘A. Moriondo”. It was a long name for a big, bulky machine.
Some years later, in 1901, Luigi Bezzera, from Milano, patented the “TipoGante” which was an improved version of Mr. Moriondo’s machine. The TipoGante included a boiler and filters of different sizes.
When Desiderio Pavoni saw it, he had to have it and in 1902, he bought the patent from Mr. Bezzera and by 1905, he founded “La Pavoni” a household name in espresso machines today.
Originally created in Italy, espresso coffee is a 1.5 ounce shot of strong black coffee served in a tiny cup, called a demitasse. When brewed correctly, it comes out like a slightly thick syrup, with a layer of brown, bubbly crema (or coffee foam) that has a unique rich taste, aromatic scent, bold flavor and velvety mouth feel. We think it’s safe to say espresso is a shot of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns, all in one.
Brewing an espresso is completely different from making a cup of coffee. Medium to finely ground coffee beans are tightly packed and compressed by producers into little cakes called portafilters. These portafilters are put into espresso machines where pressurized, near boiling water is shot through the coffee grounds, producing a complex, caffeine jammed coffee shot in about 30 seconds. The pressure is an important part of espresso brewing, as it disperses rich coffee oils that cannot be extracted using other brewing methods.
The name espresso has different connotations in English, Italian and French but they all seem to appropriately describe the drink. Espresso is coined from the English word ‘expressing’ relating to the process of squeezing out the coffee flavor and nutrients using pressurized steam. The ‘express’ in espresso also relates to the speed of a train and how fast a cup of espresso can be made. You don’t have to sit there, patiently waiting, drip by drip like other brewing methods. You can have your shot in less than 2 minutes.
The taste and fragrance of espresso coffee may differ depending on the type of beans used and the roasting process. Most people prefer their espresso to be of a medium to dark roast but it’s still acceptable to have a light roast espresso. Since the coffee is exposed to water for a short period of time, it has less acidity as compared to other brewing methods and also retains a higher percentage of caffeine.
Food for Thought
A shot of espresso will have about 120 – 170 milligrams of caffeine while a small cup of drip coffee would have about 150 – 200 milligrams of caffeine. Considering the tendency to drink more drip coffee than espresso in a day, the total amount of caffeine intake is drastically lower in an espresso than drip coffee.
The espresso can be termed as the Italian godfather of other creative coffee beverages because it forms the basis of other drinks including the cappuccino, mocha, latte, flat white and macchiato.
Homemade Espresso is the Best
So if you are keen on having your morning shot of espresso, you might want to invest in a home espresso machine, because of the obvious reason that it will save you time stopping at the local coffee stand and money in the long run! The Italian Espresso National Institute has placed strict standards on the definition of a true espresso. A small amount of boiling water must be passed through finely ground coffee under at least 9 bars of pressure. This is why they dismiss stove top or pump-less espresso machines as being able to produce a real espresso.
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Espresso 101 – Beginner Sessions with the Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine
If you have little interest in becoming a barista but you still want to have an espresso at home, then it does not come any easier than a pod machine! All you need to do is pop in an espresso pod, have your cup ready and press a button. Easy peasy.
Measuring at only 11 centimeters wide, the compact, sleek Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine by De’Longhi will snugly fit into any crevice in your kitchen. It comes equipped with a 19 Bar high pressure pump that can deliver a barista-style espresso in less than 2 minutes. This machine is an ideal energy saver as it takes 25 seconds to heat up and automatically switches off after 9 minutes. It has two, 1-touch buttons for your choice of either coffee or espresso. It is easy to clean as used capsules are ejected into an internal receptacle.
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The Budget Friendly, Under $100 – De’Longhi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
This reasonably priced machine gives you the option of either using pods or ground coffee. Check out this variety pack or espresso pods from Nespresso or this multi pack of ground espresso from Illy. It has a 15 Bar pressure pump and comes fitted with a manual milk frother and tamper, perfect for milk foam. It has a self-priming, on-off switch that saves you from the hassle of prepping the machine.
This espresso machine has a 35 oz removable water tank and drip tray to catch spills. It also comes equipped with a 3-in-1 filter holder, that is, a single shot holder, a double shot holder and an espresso pad holder. Its black and stainless steel exterior will match any kitchen décor.
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Work Your Way to Barista Status with Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker
The Gaggia’s Classic Italian good looks are showcased on its chrome-plated, marine-grade portofilters, stainless steel housing and filter baskets. This semi-automatic machine has a 17½ Bar pressure pump and is accessorized with a coffee tamper and 7 gram measuring scoop. The Gaggia Classic has a hot water dispenser for making Americanos and a Pannarello, turbo-frother steam wand to froth Lattes and Cappuccinos, but you will have to buy a separate frothing pitcher, like this one, for foaming milk. This machine lets you take charge of the steaming, brewing and control power, turning you into a skilled barista with simple rocker switches.
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The Breville BES 870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine – When Money Ain’t a Thing
The Breville Barista Express is hailed as the master and commander of the seven seas when it comes to espresso brewing. Not only does it look impressive on the kitchen counter but it also comes fitted with bells and whistles to make memorable espresso moments worthy of a Hallmark card.
Serving up quality, aromatic brews, the Breville Barista Express is a semi-automatic espresso machine that is fitted with a thermo coil system, allowing you to quickly and effortlessly switch between brewing and steaming. It has a PID regulator that maintains heat between 195°F and 205°F, the perfect temperature for coffee extraction.
This supreme machine comes with a built-in conical burr grinder, complete with control knobs to let you adjust the grind size, amount of grind and the filter size. Used coffee pucks are ejected into a separate portafilter. It also has a (get this) self-cleaning, auto purge steam wand and programmable shot volume settings. Being such a top notch espresso machine, it’s no wonder it will set you back $600 and above.
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It’s Manual, it’s Portable, it’s the Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker
Standing out from the crowd from the way it looks to the way it works, is the Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker. By learning and understanding how much pressure to apply for a good espresso shot and how to vary the pressure for different coffee’s and roasts, the Flair manual press relies on good engineering and simple lever mechanics to produce the ultimate espresso brew.
Built to last, the Flair Manual Press is outfitted with a detachable brewing head and a bottom-less, 2-in-1 portafilter. This machine is elegantly designed and owners get the option of choosing custom finishes. What makes the Flair Manual Press unique is it does not need electricity! There are no electric cables or batteries needed for an espresso shot. The exciting part about it is it comes with a sleek carry bag, meaning you can have your espresso on the go.
We hope we have given you a right nudge on the road to espresso living. Take your time to discover the right beans, blends and roasts for your morning shot and maybe you can ‘espresso’ to us how much it ‘beans’ to you!